Competition in the Acquisition of Major Weapon Systems

Legislative Perspectives

by Michael D. Rich

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Examines the prospect of promoting greater competition in the acquisition of major weapons systems from the perspective of the Congress. Congressional support for the use of competition derives from its promise of both direct and indirect benefits. The primary direct benefits are lower prices and greater technological achievement. An additional perceived benefit stems from the view that competition insures fairness. Factors militating against support for greater competition include increasing interest in interservice commonality, inherent antipathy toward efforts involving significant near-term expenditures, the evolution of defense spending into an important tool of social and economic policy, and the relationships of the Congress to the defense industry and the military. A hard sell of the net cost benefits of any advanced acquisition strategy will miss its mark if it is (1) repressive in terms of the flexibility it accords to the Congress, or (2) not supplemented by appeals to considerations other than cost savings.

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